Distracted Driving

Focus and concentration are the keys to driving safely.

Distractions can divert your attention from where it’s needed most – the road. Be a role model behind the wheel and don’t drive distracted.

What is Distracted Driving?

Anything that takes your attention and concentration away from operating a vehicle constitutes distracted driving.

In-vehicle distractions include:

  • Using an infotainment system in your car
  • Texting or talking on a cell phone
  • Using GPS and mapping apps
  • Passengers and conversations
  • Putting on or removing clothing
  • Unsecured pets in the vehicle
  • Eating, drinking or smoking
  • Grooming activities

External distractions include:

  • Construction sites and road maintenance crews
  • Collision sites and emergency vehicles
  • Other driver behaviour
  • Scenery/wildlife
  • Street noise
  • Advertising

The Impact of Distracted Driving in Manitoba

According to Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), in 2016 more than 11,000 drivers were involved in collisions due to distracted driving. What’s more, from 2011 through 2015, one in three deaths and one in five serious injuries involved a distracted driver.

Manitoba Law

It’s illegal to use a hand-held electronic device while driving.

As of November 1, 2018, a first-time violation of the law results in a three-day license suspension. Subsequent offences within 10 years net a seven-day license suspension. At the end of the suspension, drivers must pay a $50 fee to get their license back. Convicted drivers must also pay a $672 fine and receive five demerits on the Driver Safety Rating Scale.

Penalties In Other Provinces

While distracted driving is a serious issue across Canada, fines and punishments vary from one region to another.

A 2016 CAA poll found that Canadians consider texting while driving one of the biggest threats to their personal safety on the road. Yet despite this, 33 per cent of Canadians admit they have texted while stopped at a red light – something they also believe is unacceptable.

Hands Free Is Not Distraction Free

Scientific research in 2015 from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that hands-free is not distraction-free. In fact, attention and reaction time can be delayed for up to 27 seconds after sending a voice-activated text message, dialling a phone number or changing the radio station.

Infotainment systems in cars can also create attention-impairing effects for a driver. For more information about which manufacturer built-in systems are most distracting according to AAA studies, click here

Preventing Distractions

Some distractions inside the car can be prevented.

Before you drive, remember to:

  • Put your phone away or set it to driving mode to forward calls to voicemail or auto respond to texts
  • Designate a passenger to handle infotainment accessories (ie: radio, DVD player, etc.)
  • Stow and secure all loose items in the trunk or other compartments
  • Program the GPS or review maps and directions before leaving
  • Prepare children with everything they need for the trip
  • Pre-set your climate controls and radio

Learning Experience: Distracted Driving 101

According to the AAA Foundation, texting drivers are up to 8 times as likely as non-distracted drivers to be involved in a collision . Drivers talking, either hands-free or using a handheld device, are up to four times as likely to be involved in a collision.

The interactive Distracted Driving 101 event provides high school students with firsthand experience of how texting drastically decreases your ability to drive safely and accurately. Students lap a closed course on go-karts or golf carts with and without using a cell phone, and compare their precision on the track and in their messages. The poor results demonstrate that using a hand-held electronic device significantly reduces their attention and ability to drive – and helps change their mind about getting behind the wheel with a phone in their hand.